Can we all agree that the bad boy redeemed can be a problematic trope? Confusing a romantic bad boy with an abuser probably goes back farther than Emily Bronte’s Heathcliff, but he’s a good example. Kristen Callihan’s Gabriel Scott is the knock off Heathcliff here. I am the Anne Bronte.
I am not sure why I bought this the minute I had coins in my pocket. I didn’t love the first book in the series, and I really didn’t like Gabriel Scott, aka Scottie, our purported romantic hero. But I did. I felt good about it at first. The meet cute between Gabriel and Sophie Darling is great. They are forced to sit next to each other on a transatlantic flight. They spark and banter delightfully. They establish the kind of emotional intimacy you can develop with someone you are sure you will never see again. It turns out that their meeting was not random, and they are thrown together professionally on the rock band’s European tour.
So far, everything is fine and not abusive. Gabriel isn’t technically Sophie’s boss. He kind of is, but he doesn’t have the power to hire or fire her. But it still comes pretty close to that imbalance of power line. The next bit is a spoiler, but I don’t want you to read the book, so I’m spoiling anyway. Sophie and Gabriel are insomniacs who discover they sleep better in the same bed. They agree to share a bed platonically, ignoring the fact that they share an attraction. As their non-sexual physical intimacy grows, the emotional space between them grows more strained. Gabriel engages in the always annoying “come here go away” game, but his emotional hot and cold is possessive and felt abusive to me. He leaves her, he gets mad when she goes away. He becomes enraged when he thinks she’s having sex with someone else, he becomes icily affronted when she accuses him of the same. He makes his emotional well being contingent on her presence.
“I am a cold man. Any happiness or warmth I’ve felt died when Jax tried to take his life. Until you.” His ragged breath gusts over my cheek. “You are my warmth.”
My heart stops, my breath hitching painfully.
His voice gains strength. “The second you are out of my sight, I want you back where I can see you.”
When HE finally decided they are going to have sex he tells her, “One hour. Come home, or I’ll find you and bring you back myself.” Almost worse than Gabriel’s behavior is Sophie’s acceptance of it. She worries about his emotions and feels guilty when he gets mad at her. She pushes back, but if I were her, I’d run away.
Gabriel Scott being an asshole isn’t even the worst thing about Managed. After the wonderful banter on the airplane, the rest of the book slides downwards into emotional fuckery and then into whatthefuckery. It was so bad that I left the unhappy couple unhappy. I couldn’t bear to read their reconciliation. Skip this one. It isn’t even worth more words.